Getting weird is as common to the west coast vernacular as warehouse parties are to underground subculture. Often used within that context, the expression defines the experience of fun for the sake of fun. It’s the je ne se quoi of saying fuck it and allowing what is to be. Within this lies a moment in which inhibition and invisible constraints are bypassed. That’s where the magic happens. In breaking away from normative patterns we are able to vibrate at a frequency conductive to expanding creativity.
Originally using the expression within the context of partying, I realized that what it actually describes is a state of existence similar to that from which we are inspired to create. The Art of Getting Weird is a new series I’m exploring in redefining the act of getting weird through spontaneous and unstructured collaborations. Curious by its cognitive and creative value, I asked friends for their reactions to the term “let’s get weird.” The responses went hand in hand with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll while containing a liberating element present in cultural shifts. These are not foreign concepts as there’s a reason for their presence within the formative years of creative movements.
Speaking of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll and the je ne se quoi of saying fuck it, I’d like to share my latest spontaneous collab with a new friend named Jawny. Read the rest of this entry »
Contemporary art is a constant reflection of culture. Its story lines are based on existing topics that dance around the approval or disapproval of what is and what is not. This waltz circulates around the nucleus of the collective consciousness where aesthetics don’t stray too far from home. There is no doubt that great work can come from that center, but it can only be as great as that which it surrounds. In order to do things differently there needs to be space for an untapped inspiration that can only be found when stepping away from the central thought. I recently had the honor of seeing what I consider to be one of the best solo shows, not just all year but in general. Cause living just isn’t enough, solo exhibition by Hugo Montoya at Guccivuitton Gallery in Miami, Florida.
First, let’s discuss the location. Guccivuitton Gallery is an avant-garde creative space tucked away to the north of Miami’s art districts. Its location feels real and integrated within the city of Miami in a way that really allows its cultural inspirations to fill the space, while creating a distance from the nucleus that allows for the expansion of thought. This is a hidden treasure in the Miami art scene that should not be overlooked. In fact, all eyes should play close attention to what will take place here.
Hugo and I have been friends for nearly ten years. We went to school together and I have forever been a fan of his work. It’s been a long time since he’s had a show and I can see why. There’s been a nursing of thought and an evolution of ideas that are far ahead of their time. He gave me the honor of a personal walk through the show last week, sharing the story behind each piece, all of which are found objects adapted and placed with careful precision. For an exhibition strong enough to stand any interpretation, the stories behind the scenes are what add to its value. It’s the culmination of details and the perfection of every angle in which you experience the art.
There’s a small center for worship next door to Guccivuitton, which creates a magical entrance into the space, should you catch it at the right time. We arrived at the space around 7:30pm, well after sunset but still in time for the church choir. As we walked up to the gallery the echos of Haitian gospel increased in volume and you could feel the energy surround the gallery’s entrance. Hugo spent six weeks in the gallery, something that artists don’t regularly have a chance to do. The energy of the gospel choir filled the space that night just as it did throughout those six weeks. From every angle this show presents a new perspective, regardless of the stories behind it or the academic interpretations. It has the ability to stand alone.
I took my first steps into the gallery and immediately halted at the sight of a giant neon boulder suspended by an iron rod in the front center of the room. Stolen Boulder is a 300lbs concrete rock on a thin steel rod. Its placement is as organic as the story behind it and as intuitively calculated as the rest of the show. A reference to the late artist Franz West but with the physical might of what it takes to carry a 300lbs boulder, which takes things a step further than the constructed paper mache versions by West. Three of its four sides are painted with neon colors, giving it a playful feeling of weightlessness, like the tiny stones in an aquarium of tropical fish. One side of the stone was kept unpainted and organic, it’s pores and grains bring the reality of its natural state back to the piece.
Directly behind Stolen Boulder is Black Beach, a floor to ceiling wall created with clay off the coast of Key Biscayne. Excavated from the Jim Crow-era’s “colored-only” beach of Virginia Key, the piece was made entirely by hand and completed within a single night. The clay is a sustainable material that can be recycled, reproduced, or returned back to the land. The exhibition itself comments on race and contemporary culture, but that’s just one of the many layers to the whole. The sun rose when he plastered the last piece of the wall with his hands allowing it dry as a whole to reflect earth’s natural patterns.
“It’s skin, it’s the earth. That’s how water dries naturally. These are patterns within how water dries, it’s the patterns created by the loss of water.”
The next piece is my favorite of the show. It’s so White it’s Wong, a mixed-media piece of two found photographs as controversial as their placement. Mounted on two white pillars that come down from the ceiling, the photographs are placed facing each other at eye level. The first image is a thrifted find of a family portrait with layers of wong. “There’s seven layers of white in this one image, I can’t even come close to understand it,” explained Hugo. The white frame, white matte, white background, white shirts, on a white family, etc. Their faces are unapologetically oblivious and made to stare directly at the chimpanzee photo in front of it. Its corresponding image is a photograph of a chimpanzee behind zoo bars. This particular image comments on the artists’ disapproval of captivating any species, an underlying element to the discomfort he creates for his audience with the piece. The chimpanzee’s facial expression and body language reflects defeat, disinterest, and solitary confinement. Issues of race, class, and structure circulate the piece with a yin and yang balance that juxtaposes its implied reactions. I live for the way Hugo shakes his audience through his work, what he says, and the way it says it. There’s a highly sophisticated approach to tongue-in-cheek humor that is refreshingly light despite the adverse subjects explored.
To complete the series is Oscar’s Mom, a name that brings the whole thing together and a piece that Hugo has always wanted to include in a show. Oscar’s Mom is a giant print rendition of a painting made by his friend’s mother. Oscar was always reluctant to the idea of Hugo showing his mom’s painting as he felt it would be exploited, but that just adds to adds its perfection in the show. Hugo would be the guy that creates an obnoxiously large print of your mom’s painting and places it as the center piece. The painting was originally made by a Colombian woman and echoes Hugo’s grandmother’s most noted piece of advice. Her last words (but not really) were “ten cuidado con las Colombianas, esas si son arrechas,” (be careful with Colombian girls, they’re wild). Did I mention I’m Colombian?
Art comes from an expression of feeling, a documentation of a place in time, and a statement. There’s a sense of release when you’re creating, because you’re working through thoughts and releasing them. In the middle of what was my most painful injury, a tiny finger fracture that radiated pain through my entire arm, I think I found the cure. When you’re hurt, make art out of it. Whether it’s an injury, injustice, or broken heart, turn the camera around and capture it. In the spirit of Nan Goldin and in dedication to my beloved Andy, David Tamargo and I bring you a photograph worth every tear.
There is a universal formula at the basis of all design. Whether it’s in the three-dimensional structure of an atom or the blueprint of a building, a beautiful mathematical equation lays at the foundation of all form. To see the world in shapes, colors, and lines is a blessing. To capture it, mold it, construct it and deconstruct it is another story. Yuri Tuma sees the world in the form of abstract symmetry, which he’s applied to creating a visual language where images replace numbers and patterns shape the conversation.
Yuri Tuma is a Brazilian artist based in Miami, Florida whose art matches the balance of his personality and the vibrational frequency of his name. In other words, Tuma has a harmonious nature that is reflected in his work. He is a photographer who uses shapes and linear structure to develop symmetrical patterns that mirror the nature of design. There is a left-brain and right-brain balance in his work that merges math and intuition to illustrate an understanding of universal geometry. Represented by the established and rebellious Butter Gallery, Tuma has had four solo exhibitions (2008 – 2013) alongside group shows and art fairs in New York and Shanghai. In his fifth solo exhibition, Tuma presents Headlights at Product/81 Gallery, opening Saturday August 10, 2013 in Miami, Fl. Commissioned by Fordistas, Headlights presents the study of formulaic patterns and optical-symmetry. Tuma sees the application of nature’s patterns in man-made structures, which he presents through a kaleidoscopic lens that makes the inorganic, organic. I’d like to see his work evolve into textiles, where I’m first in line for a turban collaboration and dream of seeing his prints on a Proenza-Schouler runway. Lots of exciting stuff for the charming Yuri Tuma, who is an eligible bachelor for the sophisti-gays.
Art is a delicacy often prepared through a re-purposing of ingredients. It’s a meal best served on a silver platter to a room that boasts an exploratory palate with dietary restrictions. To conjure the flavors of any given taste takes time, patience, understanding, certainty, and presentation. As new flavors are introduced, some react with xenophobic taste buds while others embrace it and some just don’t care. Movements occur in a similar way in which ideas are developed and presented to existing institutions. Regardless of the point of reference, there is an established foundation at the root of both expanding the palate and invoking social change. Los Angeles recently experienced what can be described as the culmination of both metaphors, if applied to the world of contemporary art.
Last week Jeffrey Deitch resigned from his tenure as Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Deitch came to Los Angeles in 2010 to save the museum from its financial crisis and breathe a new perspective into the institution. There is a natural resistance that occurs when established perspectives are challenged and that’s what happened in this story. Despite the criticism circulating his every move, Deitch understood the importance of expanding the experience of art and he dedicated his time in Los Angeles to building a new foundation. His tenure was short but impactful, contributing a lot more to the city than saving our museum. Deitch positioned Los Angeles in the right place for the next wave of artists, curators, gallerists, writers, and thinkers while introducing an institution to a taste of what’s to come. As we find ourselves in a transitional period between new school and old school thought, it’s important to nod to our ancestors, shake hands with the present, and celebrate the figures that are expanding the way we experience life. On behalf of Los Angeles and the next wave of thinkers, thank you Jeffrey. I look forward to your next adventure.
“In the realm of intersecting ideas, lies the opportunity of transformative change, ” Francesco LoCastro.
Francesco LoCastro has the heart of a painter and the mind of a twenty-first century philosopher. His recent body of work explores subjects in the metaphysical and existential realms, which he conveys through a visual language that is both accessible and complex. Through the use of shapes, colors, symmetry, layers and movement, Francesco presents his work across a platform that transcends the diversity of the human experience. There is a meditative quality beneath his paintings, which is brought to life in subtle video movement. Each painting is constructed through symmetrical layers that are slowly stripped away to reveal a nucleus within a configuration that reflects the invisible structures that define our experience. Deep, I know; but you can also appreciate it from a purely aesthetic place that’s pleasing to the eye and inexplicably peaceful.
As we prepare to shift into a new paradigm, we see the evolution of thought reflected in present dialogues. Francesco LoCastro is an active voice in the contemporary art movement and is helping to steer things in the right direction. Noted for his contributions to Pop-Surrealism, LoCastro is recognized as a key figure in bringing its urban contemporary aesthetics into the realm of fine art. As a painter, curator, and founder of new art fairs, there is a proactive element behind each action that defines him as a humble visionary of our time. Artists have always functioned as mediums in conveying higher levels of understanding and LoCastro airs on that of the 4th dimension. As artists we are the catalysts in the transformation of society and Francesco occupies an important place within it. Below are some shots from our studio visit last month and a glimpse at his latest geometric goodness. Pay close attention to his paintings and videos, there often appears to be a digital design element but it’s been created by hand. And last but not least, check out the Natology portraits, which totally take the cake.
I just returned from the city of endless summers and brought back a gift from Miami. I bounce around between LA and Miami for work and recently finished a pretty cool project for my client Product/81 creative lab. During my last trip I got a chance to collaborate with Laura and Patrick of Nightdrive Miami on producing the first Fordistas EP. Forditsas is a creative endeavor powered by South Florida Ford to give artists a launching platform through exhibitions and art related events. We took a step in a new direction earlier this month, releasing the Dude Skywalker “Feel Good” EP created exclusively for Fordistas.
Dude Skywalker “Feel Good” EP serves a nice sampling of Miami’s underground dance music while making you feel like you’re on-one-at-a-day-party-in-the-middle-of-summer. It’s dope. Each of the tracks was remixed by a different Miami DJ to give a taste of the different flavors the city has to offer. The album artwork was designed by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Yuri Tuma. Miami’s got some pretty cool people there right now all of which are working around the clock on creating a cultural movement. To learn more about the artists check out nighdrivemiami.com and download the full album on fordistas.com.
Here’s to summer,